A classic Sunday dinner, Coq Au Vin is unusual in the fact that the chicken is cooked in red wine, alot of red wine!
8 chicken thighs
150g pancetta or unsmoked bacon in the piece
250ml chicken stock
2 medium onions
a large carrot
2 ribs of celery
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsps flour
a bottle of red wine
4 or 5 small sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
12 small onions, peeled
200g small mushrooms
boiled or steamed potatoes, to serve
Cut the pancetta into short strips; they need to be thicker than a matchstick. Put them, together with the butter, into a thick-bottomed casserole and let them cook over a moderate heat. Stir the pancetta until golden, lift it out into a bowl, leaving behind the fat in the pan.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot fat in the casserole, so that they fit snugly yet have room to colour. Turn them when the underside is pale gold. Lift the chicken out and into the bowl with the pancetta.
While the chicken is colouring in the pan, peel and roughly chop the onions and carrot, and wash and chop the celery. With the chicken out, add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, peeled and thinly sliced, as you go. Return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two before pouring in the wine and herbs. Spoon in ladles of the simmering chicken stock until the entire chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then, just as it gets there, turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid.
Melt the butter in a small pan, add the small peeled onions and then the mushrooms, halving or quartering them if they are too big. Let them cook until they are golden, then add them to the chicken with a seasoning of salt and pepper.
Check the chicken after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling from its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the type of chicken you are using. Lift the chicken out and into a bowl.
Turn the heat up under the sauce and let it bubble enthusiastically until it has reduced a little. As it bubbles down it will become thicker – though not thick – and will become quite glossy.
Return the chicken to the pan and serve with the potatoes.